Going, gently

Published date09 January 2024
Publication titleSignal
WHAT better way to begin the new year than with a show about the end of it all? However, Carol & the End of the World isn’t the typical adrenaline-filled, apocalyptic nightmare that typifies the genre. Much as I’m a fan, that sort of thing would be a little heavy to ring in 2024 with

Instead, Netflix’s new limited series is a melancholic rumination on how people respond to existential catastrophe and the voyage of self-discovery that happens when all bets are off and the world faces its final curtain.

It’s also highly amusing, in its own dry, quiet way. One of the biggest laughs in the first episode comes from a simple thumbs up.

The series, which is streaming now, follows the titular Carol, a slightly depressed 40-something, as she lives through the final seven months until a looming planet crashes into the earth, destroying it in the process.

While everyone around her is outside living their best lives, she’s attempting to keep calm and carry on, while also feeling crushed by pressure to make the most of every moment.

Her sister is off travelling the world having high-octane adventures, her parents have entered into a throuple with her father’s nurse and embraced naturism and everywhere she looks people are skydiving, raving, participating in orgies and living like there’s no tomorrow. Which, soon enough there won’t be.

Paralysed by her newfound — albeit time-restricted — freedom from responsibility, and expectation Carol flounders. As the world’s institutions and corporations crumble around her she drifts aimlessly. She even ends up inventing activities she’s pursuing, like learning to surf or play the bass, just to keep people from worrying about her.

Her world changes when she stumbles upon the one functioning office building left in the city. Riding the lift, she eventually finds a floor packed with office staff beavering away silently at their desks. In a world where chaos reigns, it’s...

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